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Smith applauds call to open Family Court

Smith applauds call to open Family Court

The Law Commission's proposal to allow media into the Family Court is a welcome change, United Future's justice spokesman, Murray Smith, said today.

In its report, Delivering Justice for All, the Commission recommends that the Family Court continue to be closed to the general public, but that discretion be given to judges to permit support persons to attend, and accredited news media be able to attend and report on family proceedings.

Mr Smith said that, while Australian experiences suggest that the right of media to attend and report on family cases is not widely used and has little apparent impact on cases, the principles of openness and accountability mean that media should be allowed to observe and report on proceedings unless there are very good reasons not to.

The restriction on publishing the identity of participants where children or domestic violence were involved was a good example of a situation where a restriction was justified, he said.

Allowing the media to observe cases would provide an independent oversight of the approaches taken by the court to family matters and hopefully lead to more detached, and therefore more accurate, discussion of the issues that arise, Mr Smith said.

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